Dark and Cold

Winter is in full swing here in the city of bridges. A cold lingering fog has kept the temperature from climbing above the low forties for the last few days. The days are short too, with the sun setting before five each night. This makes for difficult commutes and little incentive to to leave the house.

I haven’t been able to muster the will to get out and run, but each morning I have wrapped my self in layers and ridden my track bike to work. Long rides with a stinging face and painful fingers. Luckily, this weather thins out most of the bike traffic. Only the die-hard commuters ride through this kind of cold, so it’s nice not to have to deal with as many yahoos and amateurs.

In some ways the evening rides are harder. The sun has set by the time that I leave work, but the temperature is usually a few degrees higher than it was in the morning. Though it is nice to have a respite from the cold, it is more than balanced by the reduced visibility and the annoyance of changing light conditions.

The worst part of night riding for me is other cyclists. Sharing a bike path with bike ninjas and the even more hazardous cyclists with blinding lights is nerve-wracking. Recently I have encountered a number of oddly and dangerously lit cyclists. Last week I was overtaken by a cyclist who had angled their headlamps to illuminate to their right. What this meant is that as they passed me, and I looked over my shoulder to see where they were, I was blinded by a bright lamp effectively aimed directly into my face. Lame.

More recently, I passed a cyclist with an extremely bright headlamp set to a slow strobe. This setting led to multiple seconds of darkness punctuated by strobe of blinding light. This was stupid and dangerous. I often wonder if cyclists with light like this have ever seen their lights from the other side. It might seem like a good idea to have annoyingly bright lights for competing with cars, but when sharing a path with other cyclists…

So the cold and the dark harbor my nemeses. Though I must admit that the cold makes my commute easier in many ways, this is more than made up for by the often poor behavior of my fellow commuters in the dark. Every year I become more accustomed, perhaps more jaded, to the habits of other road users. Sadly, every year I am surprised at the number of jerks and their selfish behaviors. Good thing that I like the fresh air and the physical exertion or else I might have to become a big sissy and buy a car.